Throughout centuries, Moliere’s Tartuffe has undergone a plenty of difficulties regarding the religious censorship. Should it be considered as an antireligious play or has it been so absurdly misinterpreted?
Richard Wilbur considers the main character as a display of hypocrisy. Religious faith and the presence of its features in the play were taken by Moliere only as an example of a man who ostensibly and exaggeratedly feigns virtue, especially religious virtue (Wilbur n.p.).
Moreover, Moliere himself did not have an intension to ridicule religion or dedicated churchgoers. He aimed to caricature overly austere religion and pious churchgoers—particularly, members of a heretical Catholic movement, Jansenism, adjudged by the Vatican. Actually, it is not a wonder why the play was indisputably disapproved by the church hierarchy. In the early version of his play, Moliere had introduced the antagonist to us as a clergyman. After revision, King Louis XIV banned the performance on it. Therefore, Tartuffe’s creator rewrote the play and had extended it to five acts. Nevertheless, it had been already put on a mark of religious intolerance (Wilson n.pag.).
The main point of the play is to reveal hypocrisy. Possessing the later, Tartuffe pretends to be morally upright while he is really an imposter. His character corresponds to those members of society who seem to preach religion but do not follow the morals they try to enforce on others. Regarding the religious hypocrisy highlighted in the play, Tartuffe has faced numerous controversial issues. Some of them are hard to be tackled even nowadays. In his play, Molière did not particularly refer to the Catholic Church (major political power in France), or the overall religious situation in France (Frame n.pag.). He tried to spread a deep thought concerning hypocrisy, which had also touched the topic of religion, but it was not the only theme in his paly, which he wanted to highlight. Moliere’s thought is applicable to mostly any situation now as it was over three centuries ago.